GMPA

Mini budget – GMPA’s Response

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The government has no strategy to tackle poverty

In the mini-budget statement on September 23rd, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled his “growth plan”, announcing the country’s largest package of tax cuts in 50 years. He axed the 45% income tax band for people who earn over £150,000, a policy that has since been reversed, and removed the cap on bankers’ bonuses.

It isn’t just these policies that favour the rich. Measures such as cutting stamp duty and capping energy prices will disproportionately benefit the rich.

The government’s measures are a win-win for the richest in the country, whilst the poorest households who have been struggling for years but even more so now, have been abandoned. The Resolution Foundation said that despite Monday’s U-turn, the richest households would still gain almost 40 times as much as poorer families from policies announced in the mini-budget. Their initial analysis suggested only 12% of the gains will go to the poorest half of households, who will be just £230 better off on average next year.Mini Budget 2022 infographic for GM Poverty Action

Instead of targeted measures to mitigate the impact of rising costs, the government has chosen to punish low-income households by introducing a tougher benefits policy for around 120,000 part-time workers.

It is impossible to justify the decisions made to drive growth when we are facing the biggest drop in living
standards for generations. The IMF has criticised the government’s proposals, warning that tax cuts could speed up price rises and increase inequality.

Furthermore, according to a 2020 study by LSE’s International Inequalities Institute, keeping tax low for the rich does not boost the economy or jobs. They used data from 18 OCED countries, including the UK and US, over the last five decades and found major tax cuts lead to higher income inequality.

The government does not have a strategy to tackle poverty, and the lack of action will increase inequality throughout the country. This will take an enduring toll on the poorest communities and younger generations to come.

At GMPA, we believe we need a new up-to-date cost-of-living support package that is targeted at low-income households, i.e. those who need the most support. This should be the first step to better long-term planning to address poverty that includes scrapping damaging policies such as the bedroom tax and two child limit on certain benefits.

i3oz9sMini budget – GMPA’s Response
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Energy Price Guarantee – GMPA’s response

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Energy support benefits the better off and doesn’t go far enough to address the cost-of-living crisis facing low-income families or the UK’s longstanding poverty crisis.

The Government recently announced the Energy Price Guarantee, to be introduced from October 1st. Under the guarantee, a typical household will pay up to an average of £2,500 a year for energy for the next two years. Support was also announced that will cap prices for businesses, charities, and the public sector organisations for 6-months.

We are fast approaching what is going to be the most difficult winter in decades. Whilst the Energy Price Guarantee is welcome, it is poorly targeted and will not prevent many low-income households from reaching crisis point.

  • The support package does not go far enough, low-income households will still be worse off than they arecurrently. The poorest households will be £400 worse off and face energy bills of nearly £2,000.
  • It is not targeted to those most in need and gives support to households regardless of their income. This means it will benefit well-off households the most as they tend to be the highest users of energy. IFS analysis reveals among households in the lowest-income tenth of the population the average gain is expected to be about £1,600 over the coming year compared to nearly £2,000 for those in the highest-income tenth of the population. Over half of the £60 billion giveaway to households will go to the top half of the income distribution.
  • It is estimated the policy could cost £130 billion over the next 18 months, more than the two Covid furlough schemes and it could eclipse the bailouts for banks during the financial crisis. The package is likely to put enormous pressure on public finances. Hard-working families will be paying for this cost for decades, yet the support does little to help those who will be struggling the most. Low incomes households deserve a much more cost-efficient approach that is better designed.

Long-term solutions are needed

It is also deeply disappointing that the Government has not announced any further support to help those on the lowest incomes, as energy prices are not the only costs that are increasing. A new up-to-date Cost-of-Living support package must be introduced, as the first part of a strategic response to tackling poverty in the long term.

As part of a comprehensive strategy to deal with poverty, GMPA is calling for:

  • Widespread adoption of the Real Living Wage by employers.
  • Increases in benefits and pensions in line with inflation.
  • Scrapping of the Bedroom Tax and two-child limit on benefits.
  • A reversal of the £20 per week cut to Universal Credit.
  • A national benefit uptake campaign that ensures everyone can access the financial support they are entitled to.

You can find out more about GMPA’s response to the cost-of-living crisis here.

 

 

i3oz9sEnergy Price Guarantee – GMPA’s response
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Cost-of-living Crisis Conference

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Call for Conference content

With the rising cost-of-living set to hit low and modest income households even harder in the autumn, Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA) is holding a one day conference exploring local, practical responses to the cost-of-living crisis. The event will take place on Thursday October 20th in central Manchester. The conference is aimed at organisations working to respond to poverty at a local level.

The conference will create spaces for leading policy makers and practitioners to come together to learn from impactful examples of good practice, with a focus on sharing practical ideas for replicating and scaling up existing initiatives at a local level in Greater Manchester and beyond.

We are putting out a call for contributors. If you have a project that helps address the financial challenges facing low income households that others could learn from, please let us know. We’re keen to hear from organisations across the public, private and VCSE sectors.

Sessions should focus on at least one of the following:

  • Maximising household income, including through the benefits system, local authority delivered welfare support (local welfare assistance schemes, Household Support Fund, Council Tax Support etc…) or employment.
  • Cash first responses to poverty – this should include innovative ways of prioritising giving people experiencing or at risk of financial hardship money over in-kind support (such as food parcels and energy vouchers). This might include grant provision through the VCSE sector or a housing provider, or a cash first approach to local welfare delivered by a local authority.
  • Reducing outgoings, including through support with debt management and providing access to goods and services at low cost.
  • Increasing financial resilience and the ability of households to respond to financial shocks by supporting access to savings products and affordable credit.

We are particularly interested in projects that have proactively involved and engaged people with lived experience of poverty in design and delivery. Contributors will receive free attendance at the conference and details of their organisation and project will be included in printed and online conference materials.

If you would like to deliver a session, please email with the following:

  • Name, job title and organisation
  • Contact email address and phone number
  • Proposed name for your breakout session
  • A short description of your session (not more than 500 words)
  • An indication of the proposed learning style for your session (e.g. workshop, presentation, world café)
  • An indication of any resources or support you may need for your session.

Alternatively, if are unable to run a session but would like us to include details of your work in the online and printed conference materials please email with the following:

  • Name, job title and organisation
  • Contact email address and phone number
  • A short overview of the information you would like to provide to delegates.

To keep costs to delegates low we are seeking sponsorship for the conference. If this is something you’re able to support, please email Graham.

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GMPA Annual Impact Survey 2022

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We want your views

By Lucy Bird, Fundraising Officer

Click here to complete the Greater Manchester Poverty Action Annual Impact Survey 2022. Deadline is Wednesday August 17th, 2022.

We run our annual survey to find out more about how the people in our network perceive our work, what they value and the different ways in which GMPA has an impact. The findings will help inform our work and support us when making a case to funders and other stakeholders.

The survey should take around five minutes to complete and not every question is mandatory. We really value how our network engages with and supports us and would greatly appreciate you taking the time to complete the survey. The more responses we receive, the better it can shape our work.

Through providing us with your views, you are helping us get closer to achieving our shared vision of a Greater Manchester free from poverty.

Click here to complete the survey.

You can view the results of GMPA’s 2021 Annual Impact Survey and read more about our impact here.

Deadline for completing the survey is Wednesday August 17th, 2022.


Annual Impact Survey 2022 Speech bubbles for GM Poverty Action

GMPA’s network is made up of over 1700 stakeholders from across Greater Manchester’s voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE), public and private sectors. It also includes some members of the public and national organisations involved in tackling poverty.

Our vision is of a Greater Manchester free from poverty where all residents can realise their potential and access the benefits of living in a diverse and vibrant city region

 

i3oz9sGMPA Annual Impact Survey 2022
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Policy Updates

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As the cost-of-living crisis continues, we want to keep you up to date with the latest regional and national policy announcements. Over the last few weeks there has been a slew of research reports and policy recommendations so, we have put together the top updates from the last few weeks to keep you informed.

Ending the need for foodbanks

The Times this weekend covered the growing food insecurity across the country, describing food banks as the “nations newest emergency service.” At GMPA we understand that foodbanks play an important role but charitable donations are not a sustainable response to the widespread and rising poverty we see.

At GMPA we believe that the most effective response to poverty is getting more money into people’s pockets. We advocate for a “cash-first” approach to local welfare, and an “advice first” approach to other support services. We are currently working on co-producing Money Advice Referral Tools in six of boroughs in Greater Manchester. The tools will describe all the places that people can go for advice and other income maximisation support.

GMPA recently responded to the Ending the Need for Foodbanks All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Inquiry into ‘Cash or food? Exploring effective responses to destitution’. We will share our response in due course.

Rise of the number of pensioners in absolute poverty

Data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that if you are over sixty-five there is now a one in four chance you are living in absolute poverty. The research analyses how household incomes and income poverty rates have been affected by the increase in the state pension age from 65 to 66 for men and from 60 to 66 for women.

Raising the state pension age has left many who rely on benefits poorer. Across Greater Manchester more than £100m in benefits goes unclaimed each year including approximately £70m in unclaimed Pension Credit  – it is so important for everyone to check if there are benefits they may be entitled to.

Local responses to poverty

At GMPA we work with local authorities to maximise the effectiveness of local welfare assistance schemes and support the development and design of anti-poverty strategies. It is great to see that Durham County Council plans to  “change political will” on poverty by directly lobbying the government and also setting out plans to refresh and refocus their anti-poverty action plan.

Here are a several more recent reports that shed more light on the realities of the cost-of-living crisis.

Going without – The Joseph Roundtree Foundation’s latest report “Not heating, eating or meeting bills: managing a cost of living crisis on a low income” examines the worst-off 40% of households and shows that, “7 million low-income households have either gone without, enough food in the previous 30 days, or gone without at least one essential such as a warm enough home or basic toiletries because they can’t afford it, since the start of 2022.”

The broken benefit cap – Analysis from Child Poverty Action Group  (CPAG) has shown that 35,000 more families will face the benefit cap next year – with DWP figures showing that more than 120,000 households were subject to the cap in February 2022. When inflation rose to 9% these families faced a real-terms income cut of £1,800 (£2070 in London) including losing the £20 a week universal credit uplift.

Half of all children in lone-parent families living in relative povertyData from the IFS shared with the Guardian shows that relative poverty for children in lone-parent families has risen at a significantly faster rate compared with other households.

We hope you found this roundup useful. The cost-of-living crisis is hitting those on low incomes the hardest and it is vital organisations working to prevent and reduce poverty continue to highlight the injustices along with lobbying government for change and campaigning locally.

 

 

i3oz9sPolicy Updates
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Money Matters

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A new programme from GMPA

By Graham Whitham, Chief Executive Officer

The cost-of-living crisis continues. At a time like this, when so many families are struggling, it is vital that they claim all the support they are entitled to. We know that hundreds of millions of pounds in benefits go unclaimed each year in Greater Manchester and that problem debt is compounding financial hardship for many households.

More needs to be done to maximise household incomes and to boost financial resilience. From this week, GMPA’s new Money Matters project has begun delivering benefits and debt advice to parents/care givers of students at Trafford College, Lostock High School and Seymour Park Primary School.

Graham Whitham CEO of GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham

Support is being provided by our trained Financial Inclusion Officer, on secondment from Citizens Advice. We want to deliver financial gains to parents and demonstrate the need for more projects that work with schools and other institutions to proactively identify people in need of financial support.

Evidence from this work will be used to support GMPA’s policy and advocacy work, and the scaling up of the initiative across Greater Manchester should it prove successful. The programme is being funded by Kellogg’s and making use Citizens Advice resources and systems. The programme will initially run until May 2023.

Our main Money Matters website page can be found here.

 

 

 

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Anti-Poverty Strategies

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The importance of local anti-poverty strategies

By Alexis Darby, Head of Advocacy, Policy and Research

At GMPA we work with local authorities across Greater Manchester on the design and implementation of their anti-poverty strategies. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit more and more people, local councils have a key role to play in offering guidance and support to residents.

Occasionally places outside of the city region reach out to GMPA for support. Recently our CEO, Graham Whitham, met with Oxford City Council’s child poverty review group to discuss steps the council could take to become an ‘anti-poverty’ council. It’s great to see the publication of their report Child Poverty In Oxford’ which sets out recommendations for an anti-poverty strategy and includes taking a cash first approach to local welfare which gives residents maximum dignity, choice and control when accessing local welfare support. Crucially, this approach gets more money into people’s pockets, boosts household income and is the preferred choice for individuals facing financial crisis rather than the use of food banks, vouchers or other in-kind support.

Across Greater Manchester, Salford has a robust anti-poverty strategy in place that focuses on creating a more inclusive borough by preventing people falling into poverty, providing targeted support for people struggling in poverty and campaigning for long term change in Government policies and practices.

We know that other boroughs are in the stages of updating their strategies and we are currently supporting Trafford Council and Manchester City Council on updating their anti-poverty strategies.

 

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Two new policy briefings published

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Local welfare assistance scheme and best practise

By Alexis Darby, Head of Advocacy, Policy and Research, GMPA

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, more people are struggling to make ends meet. At GMPA we work with the ten local authorities across Greater Manchester to strengthen their local welfare assistance schemes. Whilst schemes aren’t statutory and don’t have ringfenced funding, all ten authorities in the city region have worked hard to retain local provision which is a lifeline for people experiencing financial hardship.

Our new briefing Local welfare assistance schemes – best practise for local authorities explains the guiding principles of local welfare assistance schemes along with examples of best practise from four local authorities across the UK: Greenwich, Norfolk, Newcastle and Moray. Learning from other councils provides an opportunity to benefit from improvements to schemes that have been tried and tested elsewhere.

There are a number of proactive measures that local authorities in Greater Manchester can take that would immediately improve access to support and outcomes for residents in financial crisis across the city region:

  • A cash first approach to local welfare provision would maximise dignity, choice, and control for recipients of support.
  • Schemes should be resident-focused, identifying a clear and sustainable pathway out of poverty rather than simply offering a one-off transactional piece of support.
  • Partnership working both within the council and with external partners is vital to ensure there is awareness of local welfare assistance scheme provision and so that schemes sit within a wider, clearly identified support offer to financially vulnerable residents.

Local welfare assistance schemes should not only mitigate an immediate crisis but help people find sustainable pathways out of poverty.

The importance of Socio-economic duty

Socio_economic duty infographic for GM Poverty ActionGMPA’s vision is of a Greater Manchester free from poverty where all residents can realise their potential and access the benefits of living in a diverse and vibrant city region. A foundation of achieving this vision is the socio-economic duty. However, successive governments have chosen not to enact the duty, which is contained in Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010. If enacted, it would legally require public authorities to consider the way their decisions increase or decrease inequalities that result from socio-economic disadvantage.

In the absence of enactment at a national level, a number of local and combined authorities are choosing to voluntarily adopt the duty. We are delighted that the duty is being taken by a number of Greater Manchester councils and was recommended for adoption by the Combined Authority in the Greater Manchester Independent Inequalities Commission report.

Our new briefing ‘The current scale of the socio-economic duty in Englandsets out the scale of voluntary adoption of the socio-economic duty by local authorities in England, based on data from Freedom of Information requests GMPA submitted. We’ve seen an increased level of interest in the duty from local authorities over the last twelve months with 39 Councils in England now having formally adopted the duty. Our data shows that six out of nine regions have a high percentage of councils considering socio-economic status within all equality impact assessments and equality frameworks. It’s great to see so many working in the spirit of the duty ahead of (hopefully) adopting it. At GMPA we offer guidance for local authorities and other public bodies on ways they can ensure implementation is done in a way that has maximum impact. You can read our practical guide for implementing the duty here.

Alexis Darby for GM Poverty ActionWe hope you find our briefings useful. At GMPA we work to support local authorities, the Combined Authority and other public bodies on actions, programmes and policy interventions they can take to reduce and prevent poverty across the city region.

 

Alexis Darby

 

 

i3oz9sTwo new policy briefings published
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Greater Manchester Poverty Monitor 2022

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We have recently published the Greater Manchester Poverty Monitor 2022. The Monitor reveals the scale and nature of poverty in Greater Manchester. By developing this resource we’re able to get a multi-dimensional picture of poverty in the city region across ten themes:

Child poverty, Debt, Education, Fuel, utilities and food, Health, Homelessness, Housing, Deprivation, the Labour market and Social security

This vital resource equips stakeholders with evidence to inform policy development and service design and delivery. We’ve already received positive feedback from users, and it is good to know that the Monitor is proving a useful tool for organisations in our network.

“The Poverty Monitor is very, very useful when we’re planning our strategies for most social impact, really helping local people and subsequently speaking to funders. I found the local statistics in the interactive maps that Chris pointed me to. They are incredibly helpful.”  Director of a local VSCE organisation supporting low income families in the Leigh area of Wigan

“I have passed details of the Poverty Monitor to our policy team who will find this valuable in terms of our policy development and lobbying of the DfE and DWP.” National children’s charity

In the Monitor we strive to provide data at below local authority level as we know this is particularly useful when developing local responses to poverty. Whilst this isn’t always possible, local (i.e. at either ward, MSOA or LSOA level) fuel poverty, child poverty and life expectancy data are provided. We intend to add some further neighbourhood level data over the coming months, along with a small number of other updates and additions. Watch this space!

Beyond that, we don’t currently have the resources to keep the Monitor updated on a rolling basis.  We know from the feedback we have received in the last week and from comments on the previous iteration of the Monitor that this is a well-used and valued resource.

To support us to secure funding for future updates, and to understand how we can develop and improve the Monitor please complete this short survey.

Thank you for everyone who helped us raise awareness of the Monitor. Please keep doing so by sharing it with colleagues and stakeholders.

Government response to the cost of living crisis

Last Thursday the Government announced help for households to deal with soaring energy (and other) costs. All households will receive £400, with extra support for households in receipt of means tested benefits (£650), pensioners (£300) and people receiving disability benefits (£150).

The Household Support Fund (funding from central government to local councils to support residents who are struggling financially) has also been extended. Next year, benefits will be uprated in line with inflation.

Whilst welcome, it is now time to move on from piecemeal and ad hoc responses to poverty. It is time to fix the benefits system so that it effectively supports people year in, year out to avoid financial hardship and enables them to cope when living costs are soaring.

 

i3oz9sGreater Manchester Poverty Monitor 2022
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Families face a £400 per month rise in the cost of basic necessities

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By Penny Rimmer, Policy officer, GMPA

Research conducted by Loughborough University for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has revealed that families with children face price rises of £400 per month on basic necessities including rent, heating, and food. The findings have been calculated using the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), which is based on what members of the public think is required for a minimum acceptable standard of living in the UK.

The cost of living crisis is worsening for everyone, but those on the poorest incomes are being affected drastically, as they spend a higher share of their income on food, electricity, and other essentials.  We have seen inflation rise by 9% in the 12 months to April 2022, up from 7% in March (on the CPI measure). However, the research has shown that families with two children are facing a cost rise of 13% compared with last year. Families spend an extra £120 per month on energy, £90 on transport including petrol, and £65 on childcare. This is plunging low-income households into devastating circumstances. Families face constant tough spending decisions day-in and day-out about whether to pay bills, eat or use gas and electricity. The never-ending cycle of struggling to afford the basic necessities should not be the reality for so many households across the UK.

Penny Rimmer, Policy Officer for GM Poverty Action

Penny Rimmer

Further to the support announced by government last week (detailed on the frontpage), we need a long-term fix to the benefit system. Strengthening the social security system is central to this, as JRF findings have shown that the basic rate of social security in 2022/23 will be the lowest since 1982, at a time when inflation is at a 40-year high. Therefore, to protect the poorest families, the government needs to fundamentally review the value of benefits and end policies such as the ‘bedroom tax’ and two child limit on children’s benefits.

If the government continues to fail to provide an adequate state safety net, more families will be pushed into poverty, which will have a lasting impact on the economic, physical, and mental well-being of future generations.

 

i3oz9sFamilies face a £400 per month rise in the cost of basic necessities
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